A while back I did a rare thing for a woman to do: I entered my "Nothing Box." Some men may be able to immediately relate and know exactly what I'm talking about. Since at least half of my readership will be women though, I shall explain. A "Nothing Box" as my husband calls it, is where you purposely choose not to think about anything. This is preferably accomplished, according to him, in a serene physical location like out on a river fishing. However, at its most basic, it is a mental state of, you guessed it, absolutely nothing.
I do not in any way wish to gender stereotype. I only know what the difference is between myself and my husband. I also only know what my husband and his buddies tell me about how awesome their fishing trip was. I ask them what made it so amazing and I get answers like, "We just sat in the boat and fished." Mind you, upon further questioning, actually catching a fish was simply the icing on an already perfect cake. If nobody caught anything for the first three hours in the freezing cold sometime around daybreak after spending the night in a tent in a rainstorm where everybody got wet and the bathroom consisted of a hole in the ground, it was still completely awesome. Nobody talked about anything to speak of either. From what I hear, the 3 hour car trip to get there was spent in "glorious silence" peppered only with occasional laughter over something they thought was funny. (Totally not my idea of fun just in case you couldn't tell.) Still, this less than ideal fishing trip was completely perfect insomuch as it afforded a few guys a few days worth of precious opportunity to spend the entire time in the company of good friends and the healing space of the very empty "Nothing Box."
Quite frankly I scoffed at it when my husband first tried to explain it to me. What was the point anyway? You're just sitting there "turning the brain off; not thinking at all," as you put it. Or so you claim. What good does that do? I have since come to better understand both my husband and the merit of the "Nothing Box."
It is now my personal theory that everybody actually possesses a "Nothing Box." Some people may call it a "happy place" or "unplugging" or something else, but we all have one. For many women though, the "Nothing Box" is an illusive luxury that our minds cannot rightly wrap themselves around. Before I got married, my dad gave me a very simple, yet very profound piece of advice. He said, "Just remember Debbie, if you ask a woman what she is thinking and she says 'nothing,' she's probably lying. But if you ask a man what he is thinking about and he says, 'nothing,' he's probably telling the truth." Let's just say I had no idea how true that was until after I had been married for about a year. It completely blew my mind to think that you could actually be sitting there awake and not be thinking about anything at all.
At any given moment, for example while driving in the car, most women will attest to having 101 thoughts swirling around in their minds like an incessant whirlwind. We are thinking about what we are going to cook for dinner, or how we need to start a load of laundry immediately once we get home, or which chicken is it that keeps pecking and cracking the eggs in the nest box, or whatever. Apparently with many men however, it is a different story. According to my husband, I would be a whole lot more relaxed in general if I could just learn to open that sacred box. He's probably right. In any case though, I had found it rather difficult to locate and access. Until I stumbled upon it by accident.
I still don't possess the skill of accessing the "Nothing Box" at will without the correct circumstances being present, but I have discovered one thing I can do in order to be able to leave the hurried pace of life right where it will be later on when I'm ready to come back to it. For me, the door to accessing the "Nothing Box" requires nothing less than a horse and a box of brushes. Then time stops.
I guess I had forgotten what it felt like. Not to say that the horse hadn't been groomed in a while, but more along the lines of finally having allowed myself to step back for a moment and cease to be overtaken by my thoughts. To brush away as it were, all the worries that would otherwise wish to consume my mind. The trouble was, once I was in that "Nothing Box," I apparently lost all sense of time altogether. I had accidentally fallen down the rabbit hole and gotten lost in a wrinkle of time.
It was a perfect, sunny day. I guess I must have finally gotten at least half way caught up with the chores or I may not have been able to have let my mind go. I took my box of brushes and headed out to meet the horses. The horses were happy for the attention and stood quietly. Before I knew what had happened, the hubs was home, reminding me that we had dinner plans with friends. Like now. I rejoined reality with a sudden jolt. In that moment, while attempting to shake the cobwebs loose from my confused mind, I decided on a rather ineffective method of exiting the field. I climb over fences all the time, but this particular field doubled to contain the sheep and was reinforced with a "no climb" horse safe fence with woven wire small enough to preclude a horse getting his foot caught in it. Yeah you can't climb those. Just saying. I now found myself in the dirt on the ground looking up into the curious stares and slightly surprised sniffs and snorts of the horses. "Um, got a problem there human? Are you okay?" My husband thought the entire thing completely hilarious.
Suffice it to say, I now appreciate the "Nothing Box." I can appreciate when my husband desires to retreat into it. I also have a decent idea of how to get there myself. I always did, I had just forgotten. It's still way more difficult for me to get there than it is for him, but it can be done. If I leave you with anything, let me challenge you to locate it. Only fair warning: beware and take precautions to leave yourself sufficient time and space for what may result. You never know. You just may come to like it.